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Trichlor shortage — Service techs seek options


By Marcelle Dibrell

The trichlor shortage has numerous service techs scrambling. It has been estimated that about one third of the nation’s trichlor supply was taken out of circulation by the August 27, 2020, fire at the Biolab manufacturing plant in Wesltake, Louisiana.

Prices are going up, distributors are rationing, scarcity is real.

For those service techs that rely on trichlor (and there are many) the future is probably going to require making significant changes in how they maintain proper disinfection levels at the pools they service. Perhaps the vast array of specialty chemicals may provide some solace during these trying times.

Fortunately, the swim season has come to an end in most regions of the U.S. and with temperatures dropping, algae is not as great a threat as it will become in the spring and summer months.

But suppliers are warning that the trichlor shortage may not resolve itself anytime time in the near future. Robert Rankin, Vice President of Pool Corp, says that 2021 may well be remembered as the year the industry survived without dry chemicals.

With that grim future looming ahead, now is the time for trichlor-dependent service techs to gain a necessary education of disinfectant alternatives and supplements.

For those with the financial means, converting to a salt system or UV and ozone systems may be possibilities, and could be a way for service techs to turn lemons into lemonade. But not all pool owners are going to go for these relatively expensive options.

For customers such as these, converting to liquid chlorine will likely be the only solution. The trick is to use it efficiently and effectively. Maintaining an appropriate cyanuric acid level is the key to minimizing the need for excessive liquid chlorine use: 30-50 ppm CYA is a good target.

But there are other ways to reduce unnecessary chlorine consumption for high traffic or algae prone swimming pools. Select specialty chemicals can be the important ingredients in maximizing sanitizer efficiency.

For example, when phosphates get too high, algae prevention and remediation can be challenging, even if the pool is operating within recommended chlorine and CYA levels. Many users have noted that keeping phosphates below 500 ppb can significantly reduce the reproduction rate of algae, which helps lower chlorine demand.

Similarly, the use of an old-fashioned algaecide provides a supplement to chlorination in preventing and/ or killing existing algae.

Borates have also somewhat recently come to the fore and are being used as an algestat. Many borate users have noticed a significantly slowed algal growth rate even in the presence of high phosphates when borates are used and they also have the added benefit of improving water sheen.

For high traffic pools or those that experience a lot of organic contamination, a high-quality formulation of enzymes can also do wonders in lowering chlorine demand as well as creating an awesome sparkle.

There is a plethora of products that can be used in conjunction with chlorine to help improve its efficiency and that is the focus of this edition of Service Industry News: specialty chemicals to help reduce chlorine demand.

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